In 1916 Prime Minister Hughes proposed raising the numbers needed to maintain Australian troops at full strength at the Front by conscripting those who to date were unwilling or opposed to enlisting to fight. The government already had the power under the existing provisions of the Defence Act to conscript men – but only for service in Australia. They could not be sent overseas to fight. All the government needed to do was to change the Defense Act to extend the existing power of conscription for home service, to overseas service. All it had to do to achieve that change in legislation was to pass an amendment through both houses of parliament – the Senate, and the House of Representatives. There was a problem, however.
Some members of the Labour Government were against conscription. Hughes knew that he had enough supporters of conscription among the Labour and Liberal parties to have a majority in the House of Representatives; but he was a few short of a majority in the Senate. To overcome this problem Hughes decided to hold a national vote on the issue. This vote is sometimes called a referendum, and sometimes called a plebiscite.
Strictly speaking a referendum is a vote to change the Constitution. There was no need to change the Constitution in this case, as the Constitution already gave the government power to introduce conscription. So the vote was in effect a national ‘public opinion poll’ on the issue. The vote would not mean anything officially – but what Hughes planned was that he would be able to use the public vote in favour of conscription to persuade a few Senators to change their vote in parliament. Even though the Senators were personally against it, the vote would show that the people they represented in fact wanted conscription, so the Senators would accept the people’s wishes. That was the theory.
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The supporters and opponents of conscription started campaigning vigorously on the issue. The campaign literature of each side was often bitter and divisive. Each side presented its side as the moral and loyal thing to do, while the other’s approach would be disastrous. The vote was very close – with conscription being rejected 51 to 49 per cent. Many commentators asked why conscription was rejected. A better question may be, why was the vote so close? One reason why so many opposed conscription was that it provided a focus for a lot of different points of view about the war.
Some people opposed the war; others were opposed to conscription as a principle; others were saying that they were hurt by the economic situation of the war, and were protesting against that; still others were voting to protect unionism; others were protesting at the British treatment of the rebels in Ireland. Normally these people might not have agreed with each other on many things, but they all agreed on the conscription question, and the issue gave them all a chance to express their opposition. If I were in the time period of 1916 and 1917, I would have voted in favour of the conscription. At present, I am definitely against conscription but if I were alive in those days I would have been influenced to vote for it. Newspapers would have pushed the patriotic proscription line. The media would have influenced their readers to vote for constitution, c laming there were clear economic benefits to be made from a continuation of the war.
The Anglican Church, which was powerful in those days, would have also helped determine a decision. The Anglican Church was strongly indemnified with England. It had close links with British church leaders who were strongly pro-war. If I was an upper or middle class Australian I would have been associated with the church and also have supported strong links to the” mother country.” I would have sought assistance for my sons, brothers and husband at the front.
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I would have wondered why ” my” boys / men should be the only ones to fight and suffer. I would have wanted it to be fairer. Source A is an extremely useful source and relevant as it comes from the time period. It is a primary source as an Australian worker wrote it in 1916. A person who was experiencing the division of the constitution wrote source A. Source B is also reliable as it is also a primary source.
It was written in 1916, by a newspaper. Source B is not as reliable as source A as it comes from a newspaper, which is usually written from the journalist’s point of view. Source C is a secondary source and is therefore not as reliable as source A or B. It comes form a textbook, and therefore is not dependable as it is written in the author’s point of view. Source D is also a secondary source as it is form the same textbook. Source C and D are both from the textbook ” The World at War: O’Brien and Merritt” which was published in 1991.
Source E is a reliable and relevant source. It is a primary source, as it comes from the time period. It was written in the ” Sydney Mail.” The photograph was obtained a few days before the evacuation of Gallipoli. Source E was a photograph taken from the time that is why it is extremely significant. Source F is also a primary source as it is a segment of Sergeant Cameron. It is a diary entry from the time of Gallipoli.
Source G is a secondary source as it comes from a textbook. I think this source however, is reliable as it only gives information of the deaths. This cannot be fabricated or changed. In conclusion, I believe that time periods change many opinions.
If I were in the time periods of 1915-1916, I would have voted for conscription. Nowadays in the time period of 2003 I will vote against constitution, as I do not feel a strong connection with the Anglican Church or The “Mother Country!” I am a pacifist and do not believe in war or conscription. I would rather discuss the problems to settle disagreements.
... . (McCarthy, para. 3). Perhaps the greatest and most unique time period of all time for the British Isles was the Middle Ages. The ... Entertainment Perhaps the things that we remember most about any time period are its significant forms of entertainment and art. The Middle ... Ages. Bearing a distinct and unique culture relative to the time period, some of the values and the customs held during this ...